Aside from the stupid moniker – I am all for jihadis feeling terror – we are not at war with anyone. There is no commitment to defeat an enemy, and no mobilization of resources.
After 9-11, there was an opportunity to launch a war. W told us to go to the mall. No one but our brave military and intelligence forces actual got involved. There was no option for civilians to get involved without enlisting, and I know even Boss Mongo would thr0w up his hands at making me into a marginally competent soldier.
Where were the War Bonds? Where were the education efforts to show the nature of our enemy? Where were the campaigns to train and arm citizens to fight against terrorists? Where did we toss out groups like CAIR that support the enemy?
I watched an excellent and very early WWII documentary (Crusade in the Pacific) Aside from learning a lot about the war, more than I did in school or watching the history channel, I was struck by the power of America mobilized. People had a stake in the battle, and the civilians, even kids, participated.
W had the rage of a nation at his disposal. He focused on trying to get back to normal, and keeping us from killing random Muslims.
Thus, America is not a war. The military is at war. America is at the mall, drunk on social media.
Checking out my new iPhone’s camera. Not bad for a no-lens-of-distinction camera.
Maybe our last frosty morning. Buckley, one of only three yard art pieces, stands guard over the pond:
Sun at my back, fish still sleepy:
My first and only really true love!
I make the BEST mocha latte on earth. That’s a Breville frother and a Jura automatic espresso machine, in case you need the secret hardware. The secret ingredient, besides the most powerful French Roast on the planet, is Ghirardelli Black Label Chocolate Sauce. A bit of cinnamon, and you’re off to the races. Not even Kryptonite can slow you down after three of my double-shot beauties!
As some of you know, my Dad designed the Vanguard 1. It was launched on 3/17/58; thus, its 60th anniversary in orbit will be celebrated next month. It’s the oldest satellite still in orbit and carried the first solar cells. Here I am with it, wearing the red coat, shortly before its launch.
I recently was searching youtube and found this brief(3 minute) clip:
Prof. Kazmerski gets almost everything wrong. Vanguard 1 had two transmitters, one powered by batteries and one by solar cells. There was no switch-over from batteries to solar cells. Heck, Wikipedia is more accurate. It links to an accurate NASA page:
The battery powered transmitter stopped operating in June 1958 when the batteries ran down. The solar powered transmitter operated until May 1964 (when the last signals were received in Quito, Ecuador) after which the spacecraft was optically tracked from Earth.
Sigh, academics often get things wrong. He needs to read my book.
After becoming prime minister in May 1940, one of Winston Churchill’s first acts was to establish the Special Operations Executive (SOE), which was intended to conduct raids, sabotage, reconnaissance, and support resistance movements in Axis-occupied countries. The SOE was not part of the military: it was a branch of the Ministry of Economic Warfare and its very existence was a state secret, camouflaged under the name “Inter-Service Research Bureau”. Its charter was, as Churchill described it, to “set Europe ablaze”.
The SOE consisted, from its chief, Brigadier Colin McVean Gubbins, who went by the designation “M”, to its recruits, of people who did not fit well with the regimentation, hierarchy, and constraints of life in the conventional military branches. They could, in many cases, be easily mistaken for blackguards, desperadoes, and pirates, and that’s precisely what they were in the eyes of the enemy—unconstrained by the rules of warfare, striking by stealth, and sowing chaos, mayhem, and terror among occupation troops who thought they were far from the front.
Leading some of the SOE’s early exploits was Gustavus “Gus” March-Phillipps, founder of the British Army’s Small Scale Raiding Force, and given the SOE designation “Agent W.01”, meaning the first agent assigned to the west Africa territory with the leading zero identifying him as “trained and licensed to use all means to liquidate the enemy”—a license to kill. The SOE’s liaison with the British Navy, tasked with obtaining support for its operations and providing cover stories for them, was a fellow named Ian Fleming.
One of the SOE’s first and most daring exploits was Operation Postmaster, with the goal of seizing German and Italian ships anchored in the port of Santa Isabel on the Spanish island colony of Fernando Po off the coast of west Africa. Given the green light by Churchill over the strenuous objections of the Foreign Office and Admiralty, who were concerned about the repercussions if British involvement in what amounted to an act of piracy in a neutral country were to be disclosed, the operation was mounted under the strictest secrecy and deniability, with a cover story prepared by Ian Fleming. Despite harrowing misadventures along the way, the plan was a brilliant success, capturing three ships and their crews and delivering them to the British-controlled port of Lagos without any casualties. Vindicated by the success, Churchill gave the SOE the green light to raid Nazi occupation forces on the Channel Islands and the coast of France.
On his first mission in Operation Postmaster was Anders Lassen, an aristocratic Dane who enlisted as a private in the British Commandos after his country was occupied by the Nazis. With his silver-blond hair, blue eyes, and accent easily mistaken for German, Lassen was apprehended by the Home Guard on several occasions while on training missions in Britain and held as a suspected German spy until his commanders intervened. Lassen was given a field commission, direct from private to second lieutenant, immediately after Operation Postmaster, and went on to become one of the most successful leaders of special operations raids in the war. As long as Nazis occupied his Danish homeland, he was possessed with a desire to kill as many Nazis as possible, wherever and however he could, and when in combat was animated by a berserker drive and ability to improvise that caused those who served with him to call him the “Danish Viking”.
This book provides a look into the operations of the SOE and its successor organisations, the Special Air Service and Special Boat Service, seen through the career of Anders Lassen. So numerous were special operations, conducted in many theatres around the world, that this kind of focus is necessary. Also, attrition in these high-risk raids, often far behind enemy lines, was so high there are few individuals one can follow throughout the war. As the war approached its conclusion, Lassen was the only surviving participant in Operation Postmaster, the SOE’s first raid.
Lassen went on to lead raids against Nazi occupation troops in the Channel Islands, leading Churchill to remark, “There comes from the sea from time to time a hand of steel which plucks the German sentries from their posts with growing efficiency.” While these “butcher-and-bolt” raids could not liberate territory, they yielded prisoners, code books, and radio contact information valuable to military intelligence and, more importantly, forced the Germans to strengthen their garrisons in these previously thought secure posts, tying down forces which could otherwise be sent to active combat fronts. Churchill believed that the enemy should be attacked wherever possible, and SOE was a precision weapon which could be deployed where conventional military forces could not be used.
As the SOE was absorbed into the military Special Air Service, Lassen would go on to fight in North Africa, Crete, the Aegean islands, then occupied by Italian and German troops, and mainland Greece. His raid on a German airbase on occupied Crete took out fighters and bombers which could have opposed the Allied landings in Sicily. Later, his small group of raiders, unsupported by any other force, liberated the Greek city of Salonika, bluffing the German commander into believing Lassen’s forty raiders and two fishing boats were actually a British corps of thirty thousand men, with armour, artillery, and naval support.
After years of raiding in peripheral theatres, Lassen hungered to get into the “big war”, and ended up in Italy, where his irregular form of warfare and disdain for military discipline created friction with his superiors. But he got results, and his unit was tasked with reconnaissance and pathfinding for an Allied crossing of Lake Comacchio (actually, more of a swamp) in Operation Roast in the final days of the war. It was there he was to meet his end, in a fierce engagement against Nazi troops defending the north shore. For this, he posthumously received the Victoria Cross, becoming the only non-Commonwealth citizen so honoured in World War II.
It is a cliché to say that a work of history “reads like a thriller”, but in this case it is completely accurate. The description of the raid on the Kastelli airbase on Crete would, if made into a movie, probably cause many viewers to suspect it to be fictionalised, but that’s what really happened, based upon after action reports by multiple participants and aerial reconnaissance after the fact.
World War II was a global conflict, and while histories often focus on grand battles such as D-day, Stalingrad, Iwo Jima, and the fall of Berlin, there was heroism in obscure places such as the Greek islands which also contributed to the victory, and combatants operating in the shadows behind enemy lines who did their part and often paid the price for the risks they willingly undertook. This is a stirring story of this shadow war, told through the short life of one of its heroes.
It tended to run about 10 feet (3.0 m) deeper than set.
The magnetic exploder often caused premature firing.
The contact exploder often failed to fire the warhead.
It tended to run “circular”, failing to straighten its run once set on its prescribed gyro-angle setting, and instead, to run in a large circle, thus returning to strike the firing ship. (From Wikipedia)
that the Hawaii Ballistic Missile Alert System is NOT activated by a series of codes and commands that must be performed in the correct order, but is an unmarked toggle switch that you can accidentally ding with your elbow?
Early Monday, January 8th, at 01:00 UTC (20:00 EST on January 7th at the launch site in Florida), SpaceX launched a spacecraft identified only as “Zuma”. This mission has been a mystery since word of it first became public, and the mystery appears to have just deepened even more.
In October 2017, SpaceX filed paperwork with the Federal Communications Commission requesting permission for a “Mission 1390”. This was unusual, as no mission for the range of dates requested appeared on the SpaceX mission manifest statement. A few days later, several sources reported that the flight would launch a payload built by Northrop Grumman for the U.S. government. A Northrop Grumman spokesman confirmed this, but said nothing further about the payload or its government customer. This is already unusual: classified payloads launched by the Air Force or the National Reconnaissance Office are usually identified by at least the name of the contracting agency. All that is known about this payload is that the customer is an unnamed part of the U.S. government.
Further, the intended orbit, which was not disclosed but which can be inferred from the launch site and azimuth which were disclosed as part of the range’s announcement of the exclusion area for ships and aircraft, was odd. Most spy satellites launch into polar orbit from California, or to geostationary orbit from Florida. But this satellite was headed to low Earth orbit inclined around 51 degrees to the equator—curious.
The flight was scheduled for November, 2017, and after several delays, on November 17th it was announced the flight was postponed while data on a fairing (the nose cone which encapsulates the payload during ascent through the Earth’s atmosphere) test performed for another customer were reviewed. Then it was announced that the launch attempt would stand down indefinitely, with no reason given. Launches for other customers, some of which used a payload fairing, continued nonetheless.
The mission was then announced to be launched in early January from the newly-refurbished Launch Complex 40. After additional postponements, the mission was launched on the night of January 7/8, 2018. As is usual for launches of secret payloads, the SpaceX launch webcast ceased coverage of the mission after separation of the second stage, and showed only the landing of the first stage. Here is the complete webcast; the launch occurs at the 13 minute mark.
Everything appeared to go normally, including a successful landing of the first stage.
Then, yesterday, several sources reported that the mission had failed, some saying that the spacecraft had failed to separate from the second stage, and/or the combined second stage and spacecraft had fallen to Earth (presumably to burn up in the atmosphere). Well, these things happen. But then a SpaceX spokesperson said, “We do not comment on missions of this nature; but as of right now reviews of the data indicate Falcon 9 performed nominally.” If the rocket performed nominally (as planned), then the second stage and satellite would be in orbit, whether they separated or not.
Yet another unusual aspect of this mission is that unlike most SpaceX missions, where SpaceX provides the interface between the satellite and the launcher and is responsible for separation of the satellite when it reaches the intended orbit, in this case it had been disclosed that the payload adapter had been developed and provided by Northrop Grumman. This raises the possibility that it is the adapter which failed, which would be consistent with the SpaceX statement that the Falcon 9 performed successfully, since if the satellite failed to separate, that would be Northrop Grumman’s responsibility, not theirs. SpaceX has not announced postponement of other Falcon 9 missions on its manifest, as would be expected after a mission failure due to their hardware.
But again, failure of the satellite to separate would still leave it in orbit. Did it actually go into orbit, and if so, what happened subsequently? More enigmas…the National Space Science Data Center (NSSDC), a part of NASA, assigned the satellite the COSPAR designation 2018-001A, but released no orbital elements, which is routine for classified missions. But NSSDC does not assign designations to objects which failed to achieve orbit. Does this mean it did make orbit? Hard to tell: the object is now missing from the NSSDC catalogue. The US Strategic Command, which operates the Space Surveillance Network, added the object to its catalogue as USA 280, using the numeric designation customary for secret satellites. That usually means the object completed at least one orbit. But Strategic Command now says there is “nothing to add to the satellite catalog at this time”. What does that mean? Was USA 280 added by error, or is there nothing to add to its entry? They aren’t saying.
It may be conceivable that, if the satellite failed to separate from the second stage, it used its on-board propulsion to de-orbit the combined satellite and stage. That would be consistent with the SpaceX statement, the entry into the orbital catalogues, and the report that the object fell to Earth. Since nothing is known about the satellite and its capabilities, this is pure speculation.
In cases such as these, amateur sky watchers often provide clues as to what is going on, but an object in the expected orbit is presently positioned poorly with respect to the Sun for optical observation.
In summary: a secret satellite from an undisclosed government agency, launched after numerous delays into an unusual orbit, which may or may not have failed, and may or may not be in two separate catalogues of objects in orbit. Which the launch contractor says their rocket performed nominally and the satellite contractor isn’t talking.
On the other MB, I published accounts for the 60th anniversary of Sputniks 1 and 2 and Vanguard TV-3. If there’s interest, I’ll write an account for the 60th anniversaries of Explorer 1 (Jan 31) and Vanguard 1 (Mar 17). Here I am with my siblings around the Vanguard 1 satellite a week or two before its launch. I’m wearing the red coat.
Hi everybody! How’r y’all doin’? I hope everybody is doing great. This is my first post here. Came here via BDB a few days ago. Thanks to BDB for the referral!
I’m in southern California with my family for the holidays. Last night, we were outside and we saw the rocket that was launched from Vandenberg AFB. I shot some video of it with my phone and I thought you all might enjoy seeing it. It was super amazing! It was so high in the sky that it reflected the sun’s light. That’s why it is so bright.
I couldn’t figure out what the little bright spot was behind the rocket. It kept giving off bursts of… something.
The rocket seemed to be traveling parallel to the coast, but then it seemed like it was traveling in a southwestern direction.